Ivan Tsanov is a Bulgarian guitarist and composer, founder and member of ФАНАГОРIA /Fanagoria/ band, in which he plays in the period of 2001-2009. Apart from the band, he has many own instrumental compositions, some of which have been released in limited edition in his first solo album The Power Of Twilight. He is the author of Bulgarian Football March Here And Now – a song of ФАНАГОРIA, dedicated to the Bulgarian national football team and became a football march of the country. After the period of ФАНАГОРIA, Ivan Tsanov compiled material for a new instrumental album and simultaneously made songs for subsequent projects. At the beginning of 2018 he finished working on an album to be released under the name Album IV – A Brave New World. The characteristic is that it is the second in the chronology of publication, but fourth according to the concept and chronology of writing the compositions. After the release of Album IV, he will start preparing Album V and VI, and then rewriting and re-releasing Album I – The Power Of Twilight and then Album II and Album III … this is perhaps somewhat familiar…
As a musical style and direction Ivan Tsanov refuses to define his work, but what distinguishes him is the very different model and approach to creating music. Very different composition and specific sound…
Ivan Tsanov was born on October 29, 1971 in the town of Smolyan, located in the Rhodope Mountains in Southern Bulgaria.
At the age of 5, his family moved to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.
His first serious musical impressions were from the films about George Gershwin and Vincenzo Bellini, which were then shown on the television, and that clearly predetermined his future biases towards music as a whole.
At the age of 12 he started playing at the School Brass Orchestra where he learns the foundations of music, and one year later it was one of the crucial moments in his life – he seaw one of his friends playing guitar song of his beloved band Schturzite (Bulgaria), in which Ivan had fallen in love, listening to it on the radio. This predetermined everything, and he began to learn the guitar that he begged his father to buy him for the 13th birthday.
Initially, he studied alone using his knowledge of music from the orchestra, but after a year he started going to lessons, one of his teachers was the famous Bulgarian master of classical guitar Rossen Balkanski. However the classical guitar lessons was not what Ivan was looking for in music, and he began an endless journey in the vast world, rediscovering and discovering its secrets and wonders.
A journey that continues until now. The fact that when he started playing guitar he did not meet rock music teachers, and because of his inborn tendency or stubbornness never to do what others do, contributed to Ivan going on an individual path, which was not so fast, but distinctive and impressive.
Even when playing the music of his favorite artists and guitarists for pleasure, he never went to study their lessons. The only rock guitar school that he went through is a small textbook of Troy Stetina, which was distributed at that time in Bulgarian bookstores. After two years of studying classical and jazz guitar, Ivan Tsanov decided to find his own way in the music inspired by the Schturzite – his first favorite band and Iron Maiden – the second one, which predetermined his musical orientation in the future.
Of course, his favorite performers were much more, but these two groups determined the turning points in his life. They together with his first love the classics, and then Gershwin and Al Di Meola, who changed his attitude to jazz, were fundamental to his development. In high school and later at the Technical University in Sofia, where Ivan studied he started to play with different musicians, but did not reach the formation of a group he dreams of. In this period he began to make more serious compositions, and although he had discovered his propensity for composing from the very beginning of guitar playing, he now began to like the compositions more and decided to record some of them in a studio. However, he did not like the skills of the directors in the studios, especially with his limited financial means, and he started recording at home on audio tape. His first solo album The Power Of Twilight was created in 1995 with instrumental compositions.
He began to cast tapes on the radios at the time, and to his surprise, the most famous music radio station refused to broadcast him with the argument that they are not playing instrumentals, but he found good reception with other radios, even more commercial, but better suited to such music. He even participated in several shows featuring his music.
In the autumn of 1995, however, Ivan Tsanov had to join the Bulgarian army, where at that time everyone must serve and he spent a year there. Without being able to play but thinking about future projects. After exiting in 1996, he began to recover and decided that it was time to start playing in a band. It was followed by several years of sampling and wandering with different people and groups, while in 2000 he and several other musicians fformed the group Aquilon, which was already beginning live performances on different stages. But the band did not last long, and in 2001 it separated. Then Ivan, who has already gathered enough contacts in the music field, founded ФАНАГОРIA (Fanagoria) group. The name comes from the capital of the ancient Bulgarians before some of them moved to the Balkans in the 7th century, where they founded modern Bulgaria. The band had a relatively constant musicians and in the period 2002-2007 it was quite active – concerts, videos, DVD Live and the album Here and Now – Bulgarian Football March, from which was the song with the same name and a football theme, created for the European Football Championship in Portugal in 2004. In fact, the album was a maxi-single with 5 songs that contained only part of the band’s work, the rest of the songs remained unreleased.
In 2004, Fanagoria participated in the Rock in Rila Festival, where Ivan’s long dream of playing on one scene with his favorite band Schturzite came true, and the next year they also made a DVD of their performance at the festival.
In 2007, the other guitarist Bobbie left the band and emigrated in the UK. The drummer and vocalist became too busy with other projects, Ivan then begun sampling with other musicians instead of leaving, but he did not achieve the desired result. Thus at the end of 2009, FANAGORIA stopped its activity.
The 2010-2013 period was a special one in which Ivan made a recapitulation and review of his musical activities. He even stopped playing for several years, mainly for family reasons and especially because of his great joy – the two newborn twin daughters. But in the spring of 2013 an impulse was awakening in him, and he realized that there was a turning point – what is happening with his life, what about his favorite avocation – the music? Because he was pressed by the woman’s realm at home not to bother them with his guitar sounds, he decided to make his rehearsal and studio in a larger basement.
Thus, almost throughout the year 2013, he made construction activities during the night hours while working during the day, and from the beginning of 2014 he again took the guitar. He recovered and improved skills, shapes new and finishes old compositions and at the end of 2015 started recording the collected material – mainly instrumental. Then came the idea of his solo album – second in chronology of release, but fourth as a concept – similar to the release of the series from his favorite saga Star Wars.
That was how “Album IV – A Brave New World” was born, including instrumentals, half of them created by old ideas and the other half by new ones. Actually the first two singles of the album were based on 20 years old ideas. The main theme of Race With Devil On Balkan Highway is no longer than 4 measures and the Mirkwood’s one is just a little longer, but they remain unfinished throughout the years and with no success for this to happen. It was interesting that even with the first tones of these compositions, Ivan immediately got the feeling of how they will be called. But he could not continue them properly and they remained in the background, making in the meantime many other instrumentals and songs, including those of FANAGORIA. And so after 20 years, only for a few weeks he managed to complete them, although Mirkwood‘s record was started first, and finished last (almost 2 years later), after Ivan recorded everything else on the album.
Album IV reflects the style and concept of Ivan Tsanov to be different, to seek his own musical path and sound, not to be guided and influenced by the modern music at the moment, not to learn the guitar practices of the dominant guitarists, no matter how he likes them, he can find his own way to “The Brave New World“ (and perhaps one day to Ixtlan!?)….
Because “The fastest and easiest way is a way to the Dark Side “…
Ivan is a keen aquarium keeper and member of Bulgarian aquarium society. He grows aquarium fishes and plants just as long as he plays guitar. Started at the age of 12 and this continues till now. Ivan has prepared, arranged and maintained a lot of fish and plant tanks, he is also a dedicated aquarium consultant helping the others how to grow and maintain their underwater worlds in the right way
Ivan and his 800 l (210 gal) community aquarium
Ivan and his 250 l (66 gal) jungle plant aquarium